5 Undrafted Dallas Cowboys Players Who Could Prove to Be Gems
The Cowboys signed a number of defensive backs, wide receivers and linebackers in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough to coach up. Dallas had issues at safety and struggled to keep linebackers healthy last season. Those two positions were obvious choices to address.
The No. 3 wide receiver job also seems to be up for grabs this offseason. For that reason, it's not surprising to see the Cowboys trying out some undrafted rookies at that position.
Regardless of their position, let's take a look at some of the biggest potential gems in the Cowboys' undrafted rookie class.
WR Eric Rogers
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One of many small-school undrafted free agents signed by Dallas, Cal Lutheran alum Eric Rogers is an interesting name.
Rogers finished his college career at Division III Cal Lutheran with the all-time school records in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. At his pro day, Rogers ran the 40-yard dash in a time of 4.48 seconds.
Pro-day workout results should be taken with a grain of salt, but Rogers didn't exactly blow his chance to impress, either.
He's easily one of the biggest long-shot signings to pan out on this list, but the NFL isn't always predictable. If it were, Tony Romo and Miles Austin wouldn't be anywhere near the Cowboys roster, being undrafted free agents and small-school alums.
The Cowboys have to be pleasantly surprised with Dwayne Harris' play last year and they just drafted Terrance Williams. Then there's still Cole Beasley and Danny Coale to factor in. It's an uphill battle for Rogers, but Dallas has seen unknown names contribute big for its franchise in recent years.
RB Kendial Lawrence
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Missouri product Kendial Lawrence comes from a solid football program and has the skills to make noise in training camp.
At 5'9", 194 pounds, Lawrence is a smaller rusher, but that never hurt him in college. The former Tiger ran for 2,232 yards and averaged five yards per carry over his Mizzou career.
Lawrence has some great burst and speed, which is what a coach would be looking for from a runner his size. He's certainly not going to run through linebackers, but the rookie knows how to elude them.
Obviously, Dallas has draft pick Joseph Randle and returning rushers Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner on the roster already. The No. 2 and No. 3 running back positions are up for grabs between some great rushers, and it wouldn't be wise to count Lawrence out.
He is a newcomer to the Cowboys unlike Dunbar and Tanner, and he wasn't drafted like Randle. Still, that doesn't mean Lawrence lacks promise.
LB Brandon Magee
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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not hand Brandon Magee a $70,000 signing bonus for no reason.
The Arizona State product will join a linebacker squad headed by Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, which isn't exactly a bad thing for Magee.
It will be difficult for the former Sun Devil to get regular-season playing time, but he doesn't have to start right away. Learning from the likes of young developing talent like Lee and Carter could be beneficial for Magee.
Magee finished last season with 133 tackles and wants to make an impression, telling Charean Williams of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "I'm going to work my tail off. Trust me."
A bit undersized at 5'11", Magee makes up for his height at 233 pounds and his ability to find the ball-carrier.
The linebacker seems to have that ball-hawking knack coaches look for, and he explained to Williams how much the Cowboys were a perfect fit. Obviously he has a lot to prove on the field, but Magee's signing has a chance to pay off down the road.
QB Dalton Williams
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Like Brandon Magee, it will take some time for Dalton Williams to get to show if he can be a gem. That's assuming he makes the team at all going into the 2013 season.
Williams comes from Akron's read-option style system, which is vastly different from what the Cowboys and head coach Jason Garrett run. Starting quarterback Tony Romo was also just recently locked up for another seven years. No. 2 man Kyle Orton was brought in to back up Romo just one season ago.
Still, the Cowboys could use quarterback depth for the time being and Williams could be a good project for the coaching staff. Williams did throw for 25 touchdowns and over 3,300 yards his last season in college.
Akron is far from a powerhouse football program, but Williams made an impact in his one season with the team. He'll have to adjust to a different system, and it will be a big change between playing Morgan State and the New York Giants. If he can do both those things, maybe the Cowboys could have themselves a cheap backup quarterback if Kyle Orton ever leaves the team.
S Jeff Heath
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Jeff Heath wasn't drafted like fellow Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox was, but the position is still one that needs new faces to take the reins.
Matt Johnson has never started an NFL game and is coming off an injury. Barry Church is coming off an injury and Wilcox is a rookie.
Chances are he will not be starting for Dallas coming into next season, but every safety is trying to impress this offseason. Heath is a small-school product coming from Division II Saginaw Valley State University. During the 2011 season with the Cardinals, he recorded 81 tackles and an interception.
Heath already made it past the first round of minicamp cuts after the May 21-23 sessions and has been welcomed by at least one of the team's notable members.
In an interview with Michael Niziolek of MLive.com, Heath explained he's already been greeted by DeMarcus Ware, saying:
He came up to me and asked me how rookie camp went, asked me about how I was doing. He just treated me as one of the guys. I didn't expect him to be rude or anything, but I thought the veterans might stick with each other, I mean he's the best in the world at what he does.
Heath is doing his best to make an impression early and the Cowboys have never shied away from small-school products. With Dallas' need for a safety to step up, Heath could be an interesting option.